What is Greater Greece?

This site (a companion to Smoky Words) is dedicated to an exploration of the Gods, Spirits and Heroes of Southern Italy and Sicily – a Greece outside of Greece, greater than the one that birthed it.

Click the black box to the left to read sources on religion in the ancient poleis of Magna Graecia so that you can more properly envision the rebirth of the labyrinthine traditions of the Mezzogiorno in our world today, wherever (like the courageous colonists of old) we may find ourselves, we who are exiles and adventurers scattered to the Winds.


To root yourself in the history of this place, consider the words of Strabo:

As for the other sea, they could not reach it at first; in fact, the Greeks who held the Gulf of Tarentum were in control there. Before the Greeks came, however, the Leucani were as yet not even in existence, and the regions were occupied by the Chones and the Oenotri. But after the Samnitae had grown considerably in power, and had ejected the Chones and the Oenotri, and had settled a colony of Leucani in this portion of Italy, while at the same time the Greeks were holding possession of both seaboards as far as the Strait, the Greeks and the barbarians carried on war with one another for a long time. Then the tyrants of Sicily, and afterwards the Carthaginians, at one time at war with the Romans for the possession of Sicily and at another for the possession of Italy itself, maltreated all the peoples in this part of the world, but especially the Greeks. Later on, beginning from the time of the Trojan war, the Greeks had taken away from the earlier inhabitants much of the interior country also, and indeed had increased in power to such an extent that they called this part of Italy, together with Sicily, Magna Graecia. But to‑day all parts of it, except Taras, Rhegium, and Neapolis, have become completely barbarised, and some parts have been taken and are held by the Leucani and the Brettii, and others by the Campani — that is, nominally by the Campani but in truth by the Romans, since the Campani themselves have become Romans. However, the man who busies himself with the description of the earth must needs speak, not only of the facts of the present, but also sometimes of the facts of the past, especially when they are notable. All those peoples who lived between the Gulfs of Tyrhennia and Tarentum have so utterly deteriorated that it is difficult even to distinguish their several settlements; and the reason is that no common organisation longer endures in any one of the separate territories; and their characteristic differences in language, armour, dress, and the like, have completely disappeared. (Geography 6.1.2)

We remember and so these traditions live again.

Or as the prophets of Orpheus once put it: βίος. θάνατος. βίος. ἀλήθεια. Διόνυσος. Life. Death. Life. Truth [literally Loss of Forgetfulness]. Dionysos.


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